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Post new topic First Lap Steel Build
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Author Topic:  First Lap Steel Build
Ted Duncan

 

From:
Georgia, USA
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2022 7:47 am    
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I hope Lap Steel build discussions are OK here. It seems to be more pedal steel oriented, but there isn't many places left to go with a lap steel.

I've built, repaired, modified, restored other stringed instruments, banjos, canjo/banjos, guitars, upright gut bucket bass and such, but this is my first lap steel. I've been a lurker here and another steel builder site that seems shut down and have put together a couple pages of how-to information from posts and suggestions you all have made. But I still have some questions.

To give an idea what tone I'm looking for: I play finger style (Travis picking and other patterns) since about 1965. I fooled around with Joe Pass style jazz for a time. I LOVE old country (Hank Williams, and his brother Hank Snow, country gentlemen Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves are also favorites) and am building a 6 string to play C-6 country and a little Hawaiian and maybe some NRPS and suchlike. I do not play fuzz tone blues, not that there's anything wrong with that. LOVE SRV ... but I just don't play like that.

I'm working off a budget but think I can build a little bit better (no offense meant) than the budget Rogues, SR6 - 8's, Epiphones and Gretsch's out there if I shop wisely. I have a combo wood/machine shop in my basement.

I have my old Polytone Mini Brute amp from the Joe Pass days. I think it should work OK with lap Steel.

I have European Beech I used in a Bass for the body. It is real hard and dense and seems to give good sustain. This will be a 23 inch job. I'd like a sort of art deco Airline or Rocket shape. All red and black ... no white, chrome or raw aluminum anywhere.

For a bit of color, I'm thinking about slipping a Jerry Garcia necktie under one of them clear finger boards I found on the internet.

I'm starting off with the pickup from the Gretsch G5700 Electromatic. I've heard it and watched a number of comparison vids. I like the tone.

Correct pots and cap will come from Stew-Mac.

I've found a decent adjustable roller bridge on ebay ... and am thinking about a roller nut because I'm designing a pair of benders. Opinions on the roller nut would be welcome. I know there are very strong feelings about needing to adjust for intonation ... lets just say I'm installing the adjustable bridge to give a more techno art deco feel to the thing.

QUESTION 1: Some folks say that the tuners on budget lap steels can rattle and may not hold tune real well. Could you suggest a set of tuners ... on the budget side ... that won't rattle and will hold a tune?

I'm SURE I will have more questions, thanks in advance!

T.


Last edited by Ted Duncan on 22 Sep 2022 5:05 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Ted Duncan

 

From:
Georgia, USA
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2022 8:24 am    
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Oh yeah ... I forgot the most important thing.

Because nobody drops outta their mama knowing everything, I've been thinking about signing up with Troy Brenningmeyer to help me figure out how to work a lap steel. I've watched a number of vids and he seems like a nice young fella who knows his way around the C-6 fretboard.

As always any other suggestions would be appreciated.

T.
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Greg Brouelette

 

From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2022 2:55 pm    
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I agree with the Lessons With Troy (Brenningmeyer) idea. I have several lessons of his and they're quite well done. And they're cheap!

Oh, also, check out George Boards for his parts. He makes 3D printed roller nuts and bridges as well as pre-made fretboards.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2022 5:30 pm     Lap steel building is kool here
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Hi Ted,
Lap steel building is kool here.
You would not be the only one not playing pedals.
You should listen to Mike Neer if you like the jazzy stuff like Joe Pass.
He is also a forum member who plays great, sells tab with music and some of his own recordings.

Others with lots of tab are John Russel, Andy Volk.
Last but not least is Doug Beaumier who has loads of very nice tab for all kinds of music and most (But not all) of his is in C6th.
There are others also, but my memory is getting worse with age.

C6th is a very popular tuning. It can also be A6th by just raising two strings and lowering two just a 1/2 step if your on an 8 string steel.
That gives you the 5th tone, E on top where C6th has the 3rd tone, E there.
You'll figure that out quickly enough.

As for building a lap steel, thats a great project. Lots of guys here would help with your questions.
You might consider one of the kits that Jimmie Hudson makes and sells at a very reasonable price.
They are just like the old Fender 6 string Champ's and some are like the Fender style Deluxe 8.
Can't go wrong with a start like that.

Some of us have drawings for various kinds of lap steel if you want to go from scratch?
Good luck,
Andy
_________________
Inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
2017 Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 Polished Aluminum covering.
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Short A6th.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Long E6/9th.
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8 4&3, Restoration Project.
1973 Sho~Bud Green SD-10 4&5 PSG, Restoration Project.
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Andy DePaule


From:
Saigon, Viet Nam & Springfield, Oregon
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2022 5:37 pm     Doug Beaumier Youtube Page
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Doug Beaumier Youtube Page Very Happy
https://www.youtube.com/c/DougBeaumier
_________________
Inlaid Star Guitar 2006 by Mark Giles. SD-10 4+5 in E9th; http://luthiersupply.com/instrument-gallery.html
2017 Mullen SD-10, G2 5&5 Polished Aluminum covering.
Promat #11 2007, D-10 Blond & Mahogany with Gold Tuners.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Short A6th.
Clinesmith Joaquin Murphy style Aluminum 8 String Lap Steel Long E6/9th.
1956 Dewey Kendrick D-8 4&3, Restoration Project.
1973 Sho~Bud Green SD-10 4&5 PSG, Restoration Project.
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Ted Duncan

 

From:
Georgia, USA
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2022 6:46 pm     Re: Doug Beaumier Youtube Page
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Andy DePaule wrote:
Doug Beaumier Youtube Page Very Happy
https://www.youtube.com/c/DougBeaumier


I already listen to his stuff ... but when you brought it up ... I just gave his "Half as Much" another listen. THAT is EXACTLY what I'm looking to do.

Joe Pass has been my go-to since forever. When I heard his "Satin Doll" back in the early 70's it almost became my official theme song. (I wonder if Satin Doll can be played on lap steel ... maybe with just a little country to it. Hhhhhhmmmmmmm. Interesting.)

I may not have all of his records, but I know I have almost all of his instructional vids. I bought them just so I could watch him play ... and tell that old joke about his guitar coming tuned from the factory.

I have a couple of his albums ... duets he did with Tommy Gumina. Fantastic accordion musician. If memory serves, he was the founder of Polytone amps, and co-founder of Polytone Records ... with Joe Pass.

Pass wasn't quite a "naturally gifted" musician like ... somebody like Wes Montgomery. He worked and studied his butt off to get as good as he was, he didn't get nothing for free. I always admired him for that.

Yeah ... I'm def going to scratch it out. I love to build things. Especially weird things.








T.


Last edited by Ted Duncan on 23 Sep 2022 9:51 am; edited 1 time in total
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Jeff Highland

 

From:
New South Wales, Australia
Post  Posted 22 Sep 2022 7:45 pm    
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Before you buy a roller bridge (or nut) for your project, Make sure it is flat not radiused, otherwise as you go up the neck, the bar will not sit flat on all the strings
As far as tuners, you can't really go wrong with Gotoh IMHO.
_________________
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1949 Supro Supreme
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2008 Highland Baritone Weissenborn
2020 Highland New Yorker.
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Greg Forsyth

 

From:
Colorado, USA
Post  Posted 23 Sep 2022 8:22 am    
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I tried a roller bridge that was off an old Teisco guitar on a lap steel and wasn't happy with result, mainly because it didn't have the sustain I was expecting.

I really like the Grover Sta-Tite open gear tuning machines. I don't believe they are available due to supply chain issues. Still not available from Stewmac.

I'm in the process of buildiing an eight string so I followed Xavier Barron's (a forum member) lead and bought Gotoh's single machines for sale by Stewmac. They also have quite a selection of other tuneing machines but all aren't available.

Heere's a link:

https://www.stewmac.com/parts-and-hardware/tuning-machines/solid-peghead-guitar-tuning-machines/gotoh-schaller-style-knob-individual-tuners
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Ted Duncan

 

From:
Georgia, USA
Post  Posted 23 Sep 2022 9:33 am    
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Jeff and Greg, thank you for the suggestions ... and the kind reminder about keeping things flat ... no radius! In truth, I *knew* about it, but these days might have forgotten. Remembering things isn't quite as automatic as it once was.

I've used Grover in a lot of my repairs and builds, and never had a problem ... except finding the ones I need in stock. I just might give the Gotoh's a try. I went to their catalogue site and looked them over. LOTS of choices. Reading the reviews, a lot of folks mention the smoothness they seem to have.

This coming week I will be starting the spending money portion of the program. After the stuff gets here, I can start turning rough sketches into measured drawings. After that its waiting for the paint to dry and start learning to play "Satin Doll".
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Ted Duncan

 

From:
Georgia, USA
Post  Posted 23 Sep 2022 9:48 am    
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Speaking of paint ...

This is way out of character for me, but I want to paint, rather then do a natural wood finish, and I want that paint to be bright finger-nail polish red with a high shine ... the kind of red that might get a gal throwed out of church!

Other than model airplanes I can't ever remember doing a project like this on wood before.

I know about the prep ... it's got to be as perfect as I can get it. After that I have no idea of primer or paint.

It will probably have to be rattle-can. I have about 3 spray guns ... one is too small (model car and plane size) the others are too big (car and house size). The last thing I painted was my old army buddy, Henry. He's named after an old NRPS tune.





I'm way out of my depth ... any suggestions you make would be greatly appreciated.
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